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Work Programme Launch

Volume 529: debated on Friday 10 June 2011

I am delighted to announce that the Department for Work and Pensions is launching the Work programme today. The Government’s vision of a high-quality, personalised employment programme for those benefit claimants throughout Great Britain who need more intensive support is now a reality.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee report published last month was very positive about DWP’s management of the procurement process despite the “very ambitious timescales” set. Thirty-eight of the 40 contracts have now been signed. The two remaining contracts are all on track to be signed—week commencing 13 June 2011.

Today, I will be personally visiting a provider in west London to meet their first participants and see first hand how they are starting to use the freedom we have given them to innovate and design personally and locally tailored support.

The Government will publish providers’ minimum service offers to all claimants in due course. This will ensure that claimants are aware what they can expect, and that providers live up to what they have told us they will deliver. We will also be publishing the details of the local voluntary, public and private sector organisations that make up the prime providers’ supply chains.

Unlike in previous employment programmes, the Government have adopted genuinely long-term goals in the design of the Work programme.

Providers will be in place for up to seven years, giving them time to invest in building strong relationships with local partners and to innovate to find what works, enabling them to deliver the best quality back to work support possible.

Claimants will join the programme for up to two years, so providers will have a real chance to address the most serious disadvantages some of our claimants face in the labour market.

Once claimants have found a job we will pay providers to help them keep it for up to 18 months for mainstream jobseekers, and up to 27 months for an employment and support allowance claimant moving from incapacity benefits.

I am confident we have given the Work programme every chance of making a real difference to long-term worklessness. We expect to see substantial indications of the success of the programme from spring 2013. A full independent evaluation has been commissioned for that year as the first customers complete their two years and I look forward to sharing the results with the House as soon as possible.